Monday, August 29, 2011

New Case Study: Ratings/Review Site for 30,000 Churches

We've just released a Case Study, which you can download here, http://bit.ly/pRu87G The Case Study details how the network, a consortium of 100 leaders of Christian denominations, including the Church of England and the Salvation Army, worked with Buzzr's professional services team to create a ratings/review site to allow 30,000+ churches in the U.K. to share information about 40+ charitable program "franchises."

With more than one billion pounds spent annually by churches on social action initiatives such as “Care Confidential,” “Hope into Action” and “Christians Against Poverty,” one goal of the site is to is to rapidly increase community involvement by churches on the "franchise" programs which have been found to be most effective. "Funding from the government is reducing and churches are ideally placed to serve their communities through volunteers and the giving of faithful people," says Cinnamon Network leadership team member Geoff Knott.

“The best part of our Buzzr site is how easy it now is to share knowledge between people who would otherwise never have found each other," says Knott. "The Buzzr platform already had most of the features we needed and their professional services team was highly flexible in developing the new features we required.”

Results:

• CommunityFranchising.net launched on June 15, 2011 and was presented at a meeting of more than 100 leaders of charities and Christian denominations. The reaction? “Very positive. Surprised at all the work that had been done and the information available,” says Geoff.

• More than 1500 visitors generated 33,000 page views in the first eight weeks.

• The cost to the Cinnamon Network was roughly one quarter of the price of a standard Drupal development firm.

• The Cinnamon Network╩╝s non-tech staff has run the site without problems; Buzzr handles hosting, security and updates.

For more information, contact info@buzzr.com or call 001-212-867-4680

In case you can't download the PDF, here is the full text:

Buzzr.com Executive Summary

Client: Cinnamon Network

Objective:
Create a ratings and review website enabling 30,000+ plus churches to learn about assess the experiences of their peers with 40+ charitable program “franchises.”

Paramount in importance was ease-of-use for participating churches, rich social features for sharing information & an affordable price tag.

Solution:
Buzzr used an existing Quickstart to fast track the build and save the client thousands of dollars. The Quickstart was customized with a directory of 10 categories of franchises. Within the categories are dozens of program descriptions. Churches can easily rate/review each program based on eight criteria. Programs then receive aggregate ratings.

Key Lessons:

• Configuring a site from an existing Buzzr Quickstart can save weeks of work and large amounts of money.

• Buzzr Quickstarts can be heavily customized, including with directories and permissions.

• Non-tech staff can easily run a sophisticated social site built on Buzzr.com.

The Cinnamon Network

Organization Background
_____________________________________

The Cinnamon Network, based in the U.K., brings together 100 leaders of various Christian denominations and charities to have conversations with government policy advisers about society and the Church. Members include the Church of England and the Salvation Army.

Objective
____________________________________

A plethora of non-profit organizations seek to assist people in need. Churches are ideally positioned to extend the reach of these charitable programs into their communities. The needs are immense – so how does a church take on social action easily and rapidly?

In the spring of 2011, the Cinnamon Network decided that the 30,000+ churches in the United Kingdom needed a mechanism for learning about and assessing the experiences of their peers with the 40+ charitable programs available as “franchises” they could participate in. Examples include “Care Confidential,” “Hope into Action” and “Christians Against Poverty.”

As with most non-profits, the Cinnamon Network had a limited budget. It also had a meeting in only eight weeks with more than 100 CEOS, government ministers and church denominational leaders to present the initiative and seek cooperation for further expansion. Finally, it had no technical team to run the site.

After an extensive review of website solutions with social features, the Cinnamon Network chose to work with Buzzr.com’s Professional Services division, allowing it to leverage the existing social-media rich Buzzr platform, including its library of Quickstarts, and highly experienced design and development staff. Even with professional services, the cost of a Buzzr site was a fraction of the price of hiring an ordinary development firm.

Critical to the decision was the ability of the Buzzr team to create customized features for ratings and reviews, as well as in-site web forms, above and beyond the 100+ features already available out-of-the-box with any Buzzr site.

“The U.K. gives about 72 million hours annually volunteering for social initiatives organized by churches,” says Cinnamon Network’s Geoff Knott. “We decided a Buzzr ratings and review site for franchised charitable programs would be an important resource in helping churches evaluate their many options. The Buzzr platform already had most of the features we needed and their professional services team was highly flexible in developing the new features we required.”

Buzzr’s highly-refined “permissions” system also allows the Cinnamon Network to designate different types of users different rights to contribute to the site.

Approach
_________________________________

Geoff suggested that a travel review site would be a good model for the project. Instead of hotels and airlines, contributors would be asked to rate and review charitable “franchise” programs.

Because Buzzr is a streamlined version of Drupal, the open source content management framework with some 9,000 modules, the Buzzr staff was able to quickly integrate new modules required to flesh out its existing content directory and ratings feature.

First, the Cinnamon Network needed five different informational intake forms for charitable franchises. These customized forms had to consist of a variety of required and optional text, multiple choice, drop down and date fields. Buzzr integrated the popular Drupal WebForms module into the website to allow these in-depth questionnaires.

Next, the organization required 10 different categories of franchises, ranging from Family Life to Education to Freedom from Addiction. Buzzr used its existing Custom Pages feature to categorize the franchises and create separate pages for category.

Rather than the standard commenting and five star ratings features, Buzzr developed a new module that:

a) allowed each franchise to be rated on eight different criteria, ranging from meeting the needs of the community, training and mobilizing people, to participating in social action;

b) combined the rating from individual church reviewers into an aggregate rating for each franchise program.

Buzzr also created forms and pages for people to tell their stories about charitable programs; a calendar of events; and dynamically updating pages for advice, research, and interview articles.

Results
_______________________________

• CommunityFranchising.net launched on June 15, 2011 and was presented at a meeting of more than 100 leaders of charities and Christian denominations. The reaction? “Very positive. Surprised at all the work that had been done and the information available,” says Geoff.

• More than 1500 visitors generated 33,000 page views in the first eight weeks.

• The cost to the Cinnamon Network was roughly one quarter of the price of a standard Drupal development firm.

• The Cinnamon Network’s non-tech staff has run the site without problems; Buzzr handles hosting, security and updates.

Going Forward
_______________________________

Geoff says that one goal for the website is to rapidly increase community involvement by churches. Funding from the government is reducing and churches are ideally placed to serve their communities through volunteers and the giving of faithful people, he says.

To that end, he is continuing to build out his library of franchise programs on the website, and is able to rapidly collect and publish information thanks to the intake forms on the site that dynamically update program directories.

“The best part of our Buzzr site is how easy it now is to share knowledge between people who would never have found each other,” says Geoff.
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For more info, contact info@Buzzr.com or call 001-212-867-4680

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